The ethereal opening ceremony, which used technical and engineering wizardry to give us a bird’s eye view from the “Bird’s Nest” that showcased China’s history, culture, people and symbolic hope for a harmonic future (so said Mssrs. Costas, Lauer and Cooper Ramo on NBC’s presentation), is in the books. (Note to opening ceremony and TV directors: Maybe you shouldn’t have gone to close-up on Li Ning as he was about to light the Olympic cauldron — the suspension wires kinda ruined his flight effect.)
Now, the Beijing Games have officially arrived and so is the counting.
Will the host nation bridge its 102-63 medal deficit against the U.S. and pass the Yanks in the process? Perhaps.
One thing’s certain: NBCU will be establishing new benchmarks in Beijing that it won’t have to live up to again until it covers the 2012 Summer Games in London.
Having convinced the BOCOG to allow marquee action like the swimming finals (grin eight times for us Michael, please) and gymnastics to take place in the morning locally and thus air live in East Coast primetime, NBC should turn up some Nielsen gold.
Yet, what’s so interesting about these Olympics is what could clip Dick Ebersol’s feathers. NBCU is presenting 3,600 hours of coverage on assorted outlets, including seven TV networks, 1000 more than all other televised Summer Olympics combined from Rome in 1960 through Athens four years ago. Moreover, the 2,900 hours of live coverage, featuring all 35 Olympics sports, surpass the total of 2,562 hours for the 12 preceding Summer Games.
Included in that total is some 2,200 hours on broadband, other offerings from NBCOlympics.com and various VOD and HD fare from your friendly cable, telco or satellite provider. NBCU also has deals in place with other outlets like MSN, AOL and the AP to disseminate highlights aplenty.
Even if anyone had the inclination or their personal (or employer’s) bandwidth to dig that deeply into the largest media event the world has ever known, (perhaps the price of gas will keep more folks around for stay-vacas and keep them glued to the various screens), is it realistic to expect Beijing to surpass the 15.0 primetime mark the Peacock strutted from Athens in 2004? Or even the 13.8 average from Sydney in 2000? (The Games got off to a very good start: The opening ceremonies drew a 21.5 overnight, the best ever for a non-U.S.-hosted Olympics.)
Given that more Olympics fare is available in more places than ever before, one has to think that the platform personalization will ultimately prune the Peacock’s primetime plumage.
That takes us to the inherent beauty of TAMI. For the uninitiated, that’s Total Audience Measurement Index, which NBCU will bring to Jacques Rogge’s party for the first time. In addition to using Nielsen to track the 1,400 hours of broadcast and cable action, the programmer will deploy different metrics for its online, video on demand and mobile offerings. In turn, NBCU says it will piece all that data for daily TAMI deliveries. Talk about checking the medal count!
Since the Olympics have been a TV thing in the past – streaming faced off with a lone hockey game from the 2006 Winter Olympics from Torino and Games VOD highlights had been just a glint in Brian Roberts’ eye — the advanced services tallies will be gilded.
And with the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver offering fewer sports and hours, plus different time zone and TV scheduling dynamics, any true comparisons to Beijing on those fronts will be apples to oranges.
Or maybe silver to gold.